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» August 5, 2009 «
Grape, peach, nectarine and plum growers in the Central Valley report very good quality fruit. Yields are somewhat lower, but prices farmers earn are a little higher. Cooler weather in June and then a short hot spell really brought on great tasting fruit. The weather also caused various table grape varieties to color well. Production also declined as some orchards were removed because farmers believe they may earn a better return with Clementines or nut crops.
Hay growers in California report their crops are doing well. Tonnage is a little higher than it was last year. However, farmers are earning less for hay this year as a result of the price decline in the dairy sector, because dairy farmers have reduced herds and taken other steps to cut feed costs. The weather this year has been good for hay production. The few hot spells have been short. Farmers with adequate water supplies are harvesting good quality hay, but growers where water was reduced have fallowed fields.
Farm groups say they will continue to work with Congress on proposed food safety legislation to make the bill less burdensome. A California Farm Bureau spokesman says a bill passed by the House last week would keep farmers in their offices doing paperwork instead of in the field monitoring safety. He said providing safe food is a top priority, and food safety standards should be flexible enough to take advantage of farmers' "on the ground" knowledge.
A third Mediterranean fruit fly quarantine zone is being established in the Imperial Beach area of San Diego County after the discovery of a mated female fly in an insect trap. Eradication work has begun as crews release sterile Medflies, strip fruit from trees and treat plants on infested properties. The other two quarantine zones are in Mira Mesa and El Cajon. More than 260 different fruits and vegetables are susceptible to Medfly damage. Left unchecked the pest could cause more than $1 billion in damage to California crops.Top